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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » December 2, 2009
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From the News Editor
December 2, 2009   
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Halfway through its term in government, the Civic Platform (PO) is the first party after the collapse of communism in 1989 that looks strong enough to secure a second consecutive period in office.

Voter support for PO is over 50 percent, polls show, while the largest opposition party, Law and Justice (PiS), has 30 percent at most.

The level of support for the Polish Peasants' Party (PSL), PO's junior partner in government, is a stable 6-8 percent, and it appears that the two-party coalition could go on to form a government for a second term. If PO maintains its high level of support in the polls, it could probably even form a government on its own in 2011, perhaps using only a little help from unaffiliated deputies. The optimism of PO leaders as they sum up their two years of government seems justified.

The next parliamentary elections are nevertheless still some time away. To any observer of Polish political life, it is evident that what matters most right now are next year's presidential elections. Although Prime Minister Donald Tusk has not formally announced he plans to run (neither has any other politician), this is clearly his intention. In the 2005 presidential elections, victory narrowly eluded Tusk. Opinion polls gave him the lead over current President Lech Kaczyński with just a few days left to the second round... but when the real vote took place, it turned out that the pollsters had got it badly wrong.

Kaczyński's current ratings make re-election practically impossible, but a third, strong contender could emerge in the race. Tusk has thus attempted a risky maneuver by proposing changes to the constitution. The proposals submitted by PO seek to restrict the president's powers, so that, for example, the head of state would no longer be able to veto bills. Instead, more powers would be vested in the government and prime minister, and the number of members of parliament would be reduced. And, crucially, the president would not be elected in a popular vote, but by the National Assembly, which is a joint session of the lower and upper houses of the parliament. However, judging by the parliamentary arithmetic, it is hard to see a new constitution being voted through in the next several months.
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